Who is Sumit Nagal? The Indian tennis player who will face Roger Federer at US Open 2019 first round
22-year-old Sumit Nagal set up a dream date with Roger Federer at the US Open 2019 after securing a main draw berth at a Grand Slam for the very first time in his career. Nagal's qualification made it the first time since 1998 that two Indians will play in the singles main draw of a Major as the youngster joined Prajnesh Gunneswaran.
Nagal demonstrated tremendous resilience and guts in his three wins in the qualifiers at the Flushing Meadows. He prevailed over higher-ranked opponents in Tatsuma Ito and Peter Polansky before rebounding from a set and 1-4 deficit to edge Joao Menezes of Brazil in New York.
As Nagal takes the court against Federer tonight, here are 10 facts to know about him.
#1 Sumit Nagal was born to teacher Suresh Nagal and his wife Krishna Devi, a homemaker, on August 14, 1997. Hailing from the village of Jhajjar in Haryana, Nagal started learning tennis at the age of eight when his father accompanied him to a local sports club.
#2 It was his association with Mahesh Bhupathi that helped his chalk out his tennis career. When Bhupathi was holding trials for students in his academy in 2007, Nagal was one of the three selected. He constantly credits Bhupathi's mentorship as his guiding light and has even said that if it was not for him, then his dad would have been able to afford his tennis career.
#3 While he started his training his Bangalore, he shifted to Toronto soon after to continue honing his skills under the tutelage of Bobby Mahal until 2014. Then he made Germany his base, where he began fine-tuning his game under Mariano Delfino and Bastian Suwanprateep at the Schüttler Waske Tennis-University in Offenbach. He currently trains at the Nensel Academy in Germany.
#4 In 2015, he burst into the spotlight when the 17-year-old Nagal and Nam Hoang Ly of Vietnam teamed up to win the boys’ doubles title at the Wimbledon Championships. That accomplishment made him the sixth Indian to taste glory at a junior Grand Slam. Nagal joined the likes of Ramanathan Krishnan, Ramesh Krishnan, Leander Paes, Sania Mirza and Yuki Bhambri to have brought a Slam trophy home in juniors.
#5 Nagal had a stunning performance at the 2017 Bengaluru Open, where he embarked on a giant-killing run to secure his maiden Challenger title. The sensational youngster accounted for the likes of higher-ranked players - Yuki Bhambri, Blaz Kavic and Jay Clarke to lay his hands on the trophy at the USD 100,000 hardcourt event.
#6 This year, he reached the semi-finals in five Challenger events, showing his consistency and determination in ample amounts. Not only that, he even toppled the World No. 56 Martin Klizan in three sets after coming back from a blowout first set in the Round of 16 at the Bratislava Open in June.
#7 In July, he qualified for an ATP 500 event for the first time in his career when he made it to the main draw of the Hamburg European Open. With wins over World No. 127 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and World No. 171 Sebastian Ofner, Nagal booked a first round berth against World No. 65 Richard Gasquet. The veteran Frenchman ended his run with a 6-2, 7-6(2) win. The effort took him to his current and career-high ranking of 190.
#8 Nagal's tennis idol is Rafael Nadal whom he admires greatly for his fighting spirit and his humility. It's thus perfectly apt that his favourite surface is clay which he prefers because of his heavy grinding style of play.
#9 Nagal would have been a cricketer had he not started pursuing tennis. He even began playing cricket long before he had his first brush with the tennis racquet and would often be involved in the game for about eight hours a day.
#10 Nagal has a special affinity for Japanese tattoos. He has been inked on his left arm and the tattoos depict a samurai, a lotus flower and a temple.